Who: Sarah Lutkowski Hill has spent more than two decades battling emotional and physical troubles, and today the 40-year-old Dunmore resident needs help to cover the costs of her health care as she awaits a new liver.
After graduating from West Scranton High School in 1999, Hill moved on to Empire Beauty School and earned her cosmetology license in 2015. In addition to cooking, crafting, playing miniature golf and visiting the beach, Hill enjoys spending time with loved ones, including her husband, Kevin Hill; sister, Melissa Loring, and her husband, Jeremy Loring; and close friends Michele Martorana and Elizabeth Wolter, all of whom have supported her throughout her ordeals.
What: Hill’s troubles began at 17 after her mother was diagnosed with Stage 4 colon cancer, which Hill said “kickstarted an emotional roller coaster” that ended with doctors diagnosing Hill with bipolar disorder.
“The fight with bipolar disorder feels like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” she said. “I had no real control over my everyday life. The doctors tried numerous combinations of medications and treatments, most of which did not work for me, and the electric shock therapy treatments caused short-term memory loss.”
In 2013, Hill attempted suicide by overdosing on Tylenol, which caused her liver to start deteriorating. She now has advanced cirrhosis, which also has affected her spleen and pancreas. Hill takes medication to help her liver function and underwent esophageal banding, which treated veins in her esophagus that swelled as a result of poor liver filtration.
Hill needs a new liver but must have a full liver transplant, as she was rejected for the partial live donor option. And in the midst of it all, she continues to battle other health conditions, including diabetes, psoriatic arthritis, portal hypertensive gastropathy, Hashimoto’s disease, antral gastritis, immunosuppression, gastroesophageal reflux disease and hyperlipidemia.
Why: Hill lives off disability benefits because her health has deteriorated through the years, but she also needs to cover what she called “out-of-control” copays for her health care. Her husband has had to take off from work to take her to various appointments, and setting her up for the live donor program also requires traveling to Philadelphia.
“My quality of life is in a general decline,” Hill said. “I am in and out of the hospital on a regular basis for testing, procedures and emergency visits. The pain from this can be completely debilitating some days. There are many nights I cry myself to sleep from the pain.”
How: Hill set up a GoFundMe page, “Need help with medical expenses for liver (transplant),” to help cover the costs of her care, and people also can mail contributions to her at 213 Willow St., Dunmore, PA 18512.
In her own words: “The support and donations received mean the world to me, and I cannot thank everyone enough for your gracious kindness. It helps us pay for medical co-pays (and) travel expenses and (helps) with the time missed at work by my husband. I want to say thank you to everyone for taking the time to read my story and for your love and support during these difficult times.” — Sarah Lutkowski Hill
Caitlin Heaney West is the content editor for Access NEPA and oversees the Early Access blog in addition to working as a copy editor and staff writer for The Times-Tribune. An award-winning journalist, she is a summa cum laude graduate of Shippensburg University and also earned a master’s degree from Marywood University. Caitlin joined the Times-Shamrock family in 2009 and lives in Scranton. Contact: email@example.com; 570-348-9100 x5107; or @cheaneywest